Bentley in D.C. for festivities; recommends health care changes

Published 12:31 am Friday, January 20, 2017

Gov. Robert Bentley is among the Alabamians who will participate in inaugural ceremonies for President-Elect Donald Trump in Washington today.

“I am honored and excited for the opportunity to attend the historic inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States,” the governor said Thursday. “As the governor of Alabama, it is a privilege to witness this peaceful exchange of two administrations. “

Three months ago, Bentley denounced the then-candidate, announcing, “I cannot and will not vote for Donald Trump.”

“While I am eager to observe the inauguration ceremony in person, this trip is about not wasting any time getting to work,” Bentley said. “Thursday I will be meeting with other governors to discuss how we can best repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Alabama also has a remarkable role in this new Trump administration and I am pleased to be in attendance to help honor our state as Donald Trump takes the presidential oath of office.”

Later in the day, Bentley released a letter he sent to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy outlining three recommendations he has for the Affordable Care Act, which were:

  • Adjust, by regulation or law, the Medicare Hospital Area Wage Index to reduce the wide gaps between states in hospital reimbursement rates paid by Medicare. The current wage index formula punishes hospitals by lowering federal payment rates as hospitals become more efficient.
  • Stop scheduled cuts in Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments, cuts that would hurt hospitals that care for many indigent people, especially in states such as Alabama that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The scheduled cuts soon could reduce DSH payments to Alabama hospitals by more than $100 million a year, and about three-fourths of Alabama hospitals already operate in the red, according to the Alabama Hospital Association.
  • Maintain federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and maintain the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) increase now in place. Alabama has 150,000 people 18 and younger served by CHIP. Reducing the federal contribution to the regular state FMAP would cost Alabama about $90 million in Fiscal Year 2018 alone.